Colorado is one of the most beautiful states in America, so it’s no surprise that there are so many places to visit. It’s the perfect place for anyone who loves the outdoors, but if you want to go on a road trip through Colorado, you need to plan where to go.
The good news is that you don’t need to plan alone. We’ve found 26 places you must visit on your dream Colorado vacation. Naturally, we haven’t included everything in Colorado, but we have you covered if you want ideas for where you can go.
Durango is one of the best cities to visit traveling around Colorado. The historic Main Avenue is found in the center of Durango, where there are restaurants, bars, galleries, boutiques, and so much more.
Combining historic architecture with entertainment, shopping, and more, it’s no wonder Durango is a great place to visit. The town is also home to the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad.
You’ll find D&RGW steam locomotives on this railroad still being used on historic rail equipment. You can take a trip on these locomotives to Silverton, and they offer excursions in winter and summer to Cascade Canyon.
These trips allow you to embrace the Coloradan scenery in the comfort of a locomotive. Twenty-five miles south of Durango is Purgatory Resort, a popular ski resort that offers 105 trails, five terrain parks, and 12 lifts.
It’s also the best place to start a road trip on the San Juan Skyway Scenic Byway or make it a base camp while visiting Mesa Verde. There are many places nearby, which makes it a great base camp for many travelers.
Mesa Verde is both a national park and a UNESCO world heritage site, where it protects some of the best-preserved Ancestral Puebloan sites in the U.S. Traveling to Mesa Verde is like taking a trip into the past. If you’ve never been, now is the perfect time to go.
You can download the park app and take an audio tour as you hike on one of their 30 trails. Taking a trip to Mesa Verde allows you to see various creatures and plants you might not see anywhere else. In the winter months, you might even find snow falling too.
You can hike or see if you can snowshoe or go cross-country skiing around the park. Before traveling in winter, it’s always best to check the conditions with a park ranger first.
You can also enjoy the nights stargazing if you camp out there, as the Morefield Campground is rarely complete. While there, you can even appreciate the Pueblos’ cultural performances and demonstrations.
This is only a fraction of what you can do at Mesa Verde, and it’s difficult to see everything all in one day.
The Navajo Nation maintains the Four Corners Monument, part of the Monument Navajo Tribal Park. While it was closed from 2020 to 2021, visitors have since been able to appreciate the Four Corners since then.
If you want to visit it in Colorado, you’ll find that it’s only 40 miles southwest of Cortez. You’ll see where Colorado meets Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah at the Four Corners Monument.
It’s the only place in the United States where a single state shares four corners. If you’re traveling around Durango, you have to see the Four Corners. Due to how unique the Four Corners is, you’ll find that it’s a trendy tourist hotspot.
However, you don’t have only to stay to view the monument, as you can get Navajo and Ute souvenirs and try their Native American cuisine while you’re there.
We briefly mentioned how you could travel to Silverton through the Durango & Silverton Narrow Railway Gauge, but why should you go there? Well, the town of Silverton has a long history of tourism.
Durango and Silverton are a combined package, so visiting one without the other will seem like a waste. If you enjoy historic buildings, it’s hard not to appreciate what you can learn from visiting Silverton.
The architecture is impressive and feels like a step back in time. As part of the San Juan Skyway, it’s an essential part of your journey if you want to explore this beautiful area of Colorado. There are a wide variety of restaurants for you to dine in.
Suppose you’re taking the Durango & Silverton Narrow Railway Gauge. In that case, you’ll have a fun day out guaranteed and the unique opportunity to ride a locomotive through the San Juan Mountains and above the Animas River Valley.
Officially known as the San Juan Skyway Scenic and Historic Byway, this is a 235-mile loop you can begin in Durango. This byway goes through many towns, including Silverton, Ouray, Telluride, and Cortez.
However, what makes a byway so special? If you want to see the San Juan mountain range, this is the best way to admire it. While it will take you several hours to drive through it, there is a reason part of this route is the Million Dollar Highway.
It’s one of the most scenic routes throughout Colorado. This is the best route to follow if you want a better view of the mountains.
When you’re visiting Colorado, you need to visit Denver. After all, who can travel and not see the state’s capital? Even in the city, you’ll find beautiful parks and many places to stay. If you’re planning on heading here, you don’t have to drive either.
There are plenty of opportunities for anyone using public transportation. Denver has plenty of museums and gardens for residents and visitors to explore. You could also visit the theater or Denver Zoo. This city has something for everyone.
Plus, there are many great restaurants and shops to browse. If you want to stay in Denver, you’ll also be pleased to know that it’s in the driving range of several must-see attractions, including the Rocky Mountains National Park and Roxborough State Park.
Fort Collins is a must-see if you want to explore nearby cities. However, when the day ends, you can always head to City Park and appreciate the Denver skyline.
Have you always wanted to go to the Rocky Mountains National Park? Only a two-hour drive from Denver, the Rocky Mountains are 415 square miles of mountain range environments. You’ll find alpine lakes and towering peaks, where you’ll see so much different wildlife as you hike.
You can go snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and sledding during winter. If you’re feeling brave, you can also do some winter camping. If you don’t have your equipment for snowshoeing or skiing, you can rent them from Estes Park.
Winter is one of the best times to visit the Rocky Mountains, as the entire park is covered in snow. If you prefer the cold and you’re prepared for the conditions, then it’s the perfect place to travel. If you’re visiting in the summer months, it will be much busier than it is during winter.
So you must know how to navigate the crowds. Experienced climbers will love it there, and there are plenty of activities for kids. Whether you’re visiting in summer or winter, you can apply for a camping permit or just come and learn more about the local wildlife.
Roxborough State Park is only a short drive from Denver, which is filled with almost 4,000 acres of red-rock formations, plants, and wildlife such as black bears and mule deer. At Roxborough State Park, you’ll find plenty of activities to do.
You can go hiking, view wildlife, or enjoy bird watching. This is a place where photographers have to go. In winter, you can go skiing on the trails, and many education programs are available for children. Nine routes cover 14 miles, and you can also enjoy some picnics.
You’ll find tracks in the snow when it snows, but if you want to appreciate Roxborough in the snow, you need to move quickly. The snow tends to melt soon. If you want to visit Roxborough, keep in mind that it’s a day park, so you can’t camp here.
9. Fort Collins
Fort Collins is a college town renowned for its architecture and breweries. For fans of Disneyland, you may notice that Old Town looks familiar. That’s because Main Street USA was designed with Fort Collins as an inspiration.
Not only is the town itself beautiful, but it’s also an excellent place for outdoor recreation. All the scenery in Fort Collins is beautiful, and there’s no reason you shouldn’t appreciate it.
If you’re more of a fan of breweries, there are craft brewery tours that allow you to see the goings-on of their famous breweries. If you want to ride on any historic streetcars and travel through the town, you can do so here. Going to Fort Collins is like entering another world.
10. Glenwood Springs
Do you want to find somewhere to relax while visiting the Rocky Mountains? Then Glenwood Springs may be your next destination. You’ll find that you can appreciate the scenes of the Mountains while also taking a moment to breathe.
You could head to the hot springs and take a tour as you refresh yourself in hot water. Glenwood Springs is perfect for anyone looking for spa days, so you should sit back and relax.
Of course, you can still plan a trip into the mountains, too, as Glenwood Springs is perfectly accessible to a series of hiking trails and paths.
11. Colorado Springs
Colorado Springs is another city that is close to the Rocky Mountains, but that’s not all. This beautiful city is home to striking rock formations and some beautiful hiking trails, and it’s close to two natural landmarks: Garden of the Gods and Pikes Peak.
Colorado Springs is an incredibly popular tourist destination with many different attractions. While most people come to visit the Garden of the Gods or Pikes Peak, there’s more than that, with plenty of museums, galleries, restaurants, and much more.
It’s also home to the annual Colorado Springs Labor Day Lift Off, which is a phenomenal hot air balloon that takes place during Labor Day weekend. Comic book fans will also be delighted that it’s also the home to GalaxyFest, which takes place in February every year.
Bear Creek is a regional park that is actually in Colorado Springs. This regional park is named for Bear Creek, a tributary of the South Platte River, where a range of people and animals can cool off in the summer.
There are many different activities for you to do at Bear Creek, such as biking, archery, hiking, horseback riding, and more. There’s even a dog park for you to bring your furry friends to run around to their heart’s content.
If you want to learn more about the natural habitats of flora and fauna in the park, you can visit the Nature Center to learn more. It’s no surprise that it’s such a popular place for adults, children, and animals.
Even further from Bear Creek is Morrison, a small town that is just below Bear Creek Canyon. Fans of archaeology need to visit Morrison, as it’s home to one of Colorado’s greatest dinosaur collections.
Many of these fossils were found in the Morrison-Golden Fossil Area, or Dinosaur Ridge. You can always go for walks and drives, but one place you need to see is the Red Rocks Park and Amphitheater.
This can be found in the backyard of Morrison, and it is at this amphitheater that you’ll find concerts and drive-in movie nights. Further in Morrison is Bear Creek Lake Park, which is a great place to go kayaking or paddleboarding.
It’s a great place to relax at the beach and spend time unwinding. If you need anywhere to go, then Morrison is a perfect place for families to enjoy their time.
Garden of the Gods used to be called Red Rock Corral, but it was changed to Garden of the Gods to showcase its beauty. It’s free for the public to enjoy, so you can visit the Garden of the Gods and hike on one of their many trails.
However, it’s not only a beautiful hiking destination. It’s also known for encouraging the arts, and it’s a brilliant adventure for rock climbers. Visitors can go on daily guided nature walks, or instead, they could go on segway or bike tours.
Regardless of what you came here for, the Garden of the Gods guarantees a chance to reconnect with nature.
15. Pikes Peak
Pikes Peak is not only a mountain but it is known as America’s Mountain. It has the highest peak of all the Rocky Mountains, and there are many ways to appreciate it. You can drive up the mountain to reach the summit and spend some time hiking.
There are also donuts you can have at the summit house. Driving allows you to enjoy the mountain at your own pace. You can bring a picnic and a fishing pole with you to really make a day of it.
You can also take a guided tour or even take the train up there. These are only a few of the ways you can enjoy Pikes Peak, but once you’re at the summit, you’ll be amazed by the sights you see.
16. Manitou Springs
Down in the foothills of Pikes Peak is the small town of Manitou Springs. This town is perfect for anyone who wants to breathe and relax. Here is a city where you can enjoy the mountain air and appreciate the picturesque sights of the mountain.
Visitors have gone to Manitou Springs to rejuvenate in the hot springs for generations. Of course, it’s not only a place to relax either. Anyone looking for adventure will find many paths and trails to explore, including the Manitou Incline and the Red Mountain.
Once it hits the evening, you’ll find plenty of open-air dining opportunities. So why not head over to Manitou Springs and relax?
Steamboat Springs is located in the Rocky Mountains, an enchanting town that offers plenty of comfort for travelers. During the winter, you’ll enjoy a wide range of snow-filled activities, such as snowboarding, skiing, fat biking, and more.
However, it’s not just for adrenaline seekers. You’ll find that you can enjoy luxurious horse-drawn sleigh rides, where you can also enjoy a delicious meal. Once you’ve finished skiing, you’ll find you can rejuvenate yourself at the Strawberry Hot Springs. So why not visit?
You can’t visit Colorado without taking a trip to Boulder. This student town offers plenty of opportunities for its many visitors. Surrounded by a lush backdrop of nature, Boulder is a great center point for anyone looking for some outdoor fun.
One of the best activities is flat-tire biking in the snow or exploring the Flatirons. Many hiking trails on the Flatirons are available for all to use. It’s also a great place to take some photographs or draw sketches. However, if you want to visit the town, you’ll find plenty of opportunities.
Pearl Street is the heart of Boulder, where locals and visitors can browse among the historic storefronts or dine at restaurants. You can go to a microbrewery or go for an early morning coffee. Whatever you decide to do, you’ll find plenty in Boulder.
When you think of Colorado, your mind most likely drifts to the Colorado National Monument. This momentous landscape is filled with towering monoliths within a vast red-rock canyon.
It’s no wonder many people come by to take a trip along Rim Rock Drive to see the views. A wide array of animals are at the Colorado National Monument, with bighorn sheep and eagles being only a few creatures you’ll see.
Over at the Colorado National Monument, you can discover different rock formations and learn about flora and fauna around the park. Campers will be pleased to know they can also reserve a spot for camping.
20. Canon City
Canon is home to the Royal Gorge and, with it, the highest suspension bridge in America. Due to its proximity to the Royal Gorge Bridge and Park, families can participate in various activities outside.
You can go cycling, hiking, rafting, swimming, camping, hunting, and fishing in this historic city. Downtown, you’ll find a historic downtown area where you can try award-winning wine.
It also leads to the Gold Belt Byway, which allows you to tour the Pikes Peak area through scenic routes leading you to Cripple Creek. If you’re here for a leisurely trip, you can go on the Royal Gorge Route Railroad, a train that travels through the gorge. Plus, archaeologists will love the Dinosaur Depot Museum.
Vail is a perfect ski resort for anyone who wants to enjoy a vibrant atmosphere. Here at Vail, you can go on their world-renowned slopes and relax in luxury accommodations.
There’s a reason it’s one of the best ski resorts in the world. If you want to explore in luxury, Vail is the best place to find breathtaking sights of the mountains. There are also plenty of shops to search for souvenirs and a collection of restaurants for visitors and locals to dine at.
Aspen is the perfect ski resort for those who prefer less-crowded and calmer vacations. There are four different ski resorts to choose from, and you can learn about the town’s historic skiing legacy.
Originally a mining town, guided mining tours are still available to visitors in the summer. Of course, there’s more to Aspen than skiing. It’s also been the home of a successful annual film festival since 1979.
There are also plenty of live music events throughout the year, but the best concerts are the ones that take place during the summer!
The Paint Mines Interpretive Park is in El Paso, Colorado. These mines were named for the colorful clays that Native Americans used to collect to make paint. There are very few places like this, so Paint Mines is perfect for those seeking a unique experience.
You’ll be able to find bright-colored bands that are found in varying amounts throughout the layers of clay around the Park. There are also plenty of trails and plenty of natural wonders to explore here.
24. Maroon Bells
Ten miles from Aspen is Maroon Bells, which is claimed to be the most photographed place in Colorado. Maroon Bells is where you’ll find a reflective lake and two snow-striped mountains. It’s a fantastic sight that will express a landscape of colors throughout the seasons.
Fall is one of the best times to visit this beautiful area, as such a wide range of colors are available. Visitors can reserve a spot to visit the Scenic Area by car or by shuttle, but the sight is worth it. After all, the Maroon Bells can’t be explored in a single photograph.
You can visit the Great Sand Dunes throughout the year, where no reservations are needed. These are the tallest dunes in America, but don’t assume that all you’ll see is sand. There is a wide range of biomes at the Great Sand Dunes National Park.
Here is a diverse landscape of forests, wetlands, grasslands, alpine lakes, and tundra. You can arrange to camp overnight, as this is the perfect place to appreciate an evening of stargazing.
We recommend visiting if you want to hike through the vast landscape or even try sandboarding and sand sledding. After all, it’s a great place to explore.
Last but not least, we have a visit to Telluride. Returning to the San Juan Mountains, Telluride isn’t only a town known for its ski resorts. This beautiful town has much to offer throughout the year, and there’s no denying the unique sights that you’ll see.
This cozy mountain town is perfect for anyone looking for adventure. In the summer months, you’ll find that there are plenty of hiking trails to choose from.
One of the best trails to go on is the Bridal Veil Falls, where you’ll find the unique sight of a 264-foot-tall waterfall. So why not go hiking around Telluride, and appreciate the variety of trails to explore?
If you’re looking for somewhere to go in Colorado, then these 26 places are the perfect starting point to plan your journey. But these aren’t all the places you can go. Colorado has a vast landscape that will blow your mind, and there are so many parks and preserves to explore.
Whether you want to explore the gorges and seek adventure, or just go on a hiking trail with your kids, there’s something for everyone. Colorado is the perfect place for any traveler who wants variety out of their road trip.
Even 26 is too low a number when it comes to finding fun activities to do while traveling around Colorado.
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